A Year in Technology
My relationship with technology has changed over the years and my enthusiasm has tempered greatly. Having worked in the IT field for 25 years (up until 2016), I have been immersed in technological advancement and due to my age have seen a great deal change. I was at one time an early adopter of anything I considered to be potentially beneficial to me and at times have been guilty of acquiring something “new and shiny” simply for its own sake. I have even flirted with that dubious notion of tech as a fashion accessory. But sometimes age does bring wisdom, so nowadays, I’m a firm believer in finding the sweet spot between “the right tool for the job” and “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Subsequently, 2018 has not seem me acquire a great deal of new technology. However, what I have bought this year or started using has been well received and useful.
I managed to keep my ageing PC adequately performing for another 12 months, although I’m pretty sure that everything that can be improved, has been. This year I finally added an SSD as the existing hybrid drive just wasn’t cutting it. Naturally Windows 10 is now performing significantly better and has a much-improved boot up time. The clean installation I carried out has meant that a lot of games are no longer installed and those that are benefit from being on the SSD. At present this is just limited to LOTRO and STO. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which I recently bought in a sale, has been placed on a secondary traditional hard drive due to its large size. This new game performs well but I cannot max out the settings, as I did with titles three or four years ago. I think 2019 will see me purchase a new PC but for the present my four-year-old system continues to serve well. However, that is mainly due to a memory upgrade, replacement graphics card and now solid-state drive.
I don’t know about you, but I get through a lot of keyboards and mice. I replace them both at least once a year and sometimes even twice. Keys tend to lose their markings and those that are used the most IE vowels, spacebar and backspace will become less responsive as their mechanism wears out. Similarly, I find that mice lose their left click quickly and that the perspiration from my hands eats through the plastic case. Both of these issues can be remedied by purchasing high quality replacements, but I tend to just buy a standard Microsoft keyboard from the supermarket along with whatever gaming mouse is being discounted. I bought a Trust CXT 105 mouse earlier this year which has the “added novelty” of changing colour. It does however have a fabric covered cable to prevent tangles which does appear to work quite well.
I recently wrote about buying a new tablet and how I eventually opted for the Fire HD 10. Some people don’t care for the device due to the pervasive way the Amazon ecosystem is integrated into the GUI. However, it has zero impact upon the consumption of content and I can read books, comics and watch videos in comfort and on a surprisingly good quality full HD 10-inch screen. 2018 also saw further improvements upon that other Amazon flagship products, the Echo. I originally purchased the first generation “smart speaker” back in November 2016. It continues to be regularly used in our household for news, music and internet enquiries as well as timers and alarms. This is also the third year I have been an Amazon Prime customer and once again, I have reaped the benefits of the subscription. I purchase not only for myself but for other members of my family. Subsequently I have a very eclectic purchasing history that often leads to some curious suggestions.
I acquired a new phone late in 2017 so have now had my Samsung Galaxy S8 over a year. I recently noticed some burn in on the screen so have moved icons and changed background to try and minimise any further problems of this kind. I have endeavoured to not be one of those people who is continuously on my smartphone and I’ve successfully imposed a set of rules to ensure that it is not used all the time, especially in social situations. I have removed a lot of superfluous apps this year focusing on those that seem to access my contacts and location for no valid reason. I have managed to not use Uber Eats excessively although it does make ordering unhealthy food on a whim and having it delivered to your door worryingly too easy. If they ever bring out a similar app for gin, then I may be doomed. The Taxi Card service that allows me to reliably book black cabs at a discounted rate for my disabled parents has been invaluable.
Technology is everywhere and permeates so many aspects of our lives. I order medical supplies for my father online and have an app on my phone that shows me what carers have visited him in the morning and evening and what actions they have taken with regard to his wellbeing. I can email my local pharmacist with prescription requests and have them delivered if required. The internet age certainly has benefits when managing my parents’ affairs. However, as a household we still choose to grocery shop at the actual supermarket, rather than shop exclusively online. And although apps, hardware and web-based services bring a great deal of convenience, they do not provide the social element that traditional face to face transactions bring. Therefore, I continue to try and maintain a healthy balance between the two. I also remain sceptical of so called “free” services that continue to harvest our personal data. Overall, I still think that my life has benefitted by the technology and services that it provides. It remains to be seen whether this equitable balance continues into 2019.